Lefties Unite!

Only about 10% of people are left handed.  I am in the 10%.  So is J.  I wonder how often that happens ?   I don’t know of any other couple where both people are left handed.

Our handwriting is just about illegible.  Especially mine.  I use the ‘curve the arm over the page’ method.  Meaning that I swing my arm out over the page, with the left hand covering up the word that I’m writing.  So depending on the pen this can result in a big smear of blue ink all over the page, hand, and shirt sleeve. I remember coming home from school with ink all over the side of my left hand.  Eventually my Mom gave up on trying to get the ink stains out of my shirt sleeve.  J came up with her own style, she turns the page sideways, so she does not have to smudge any ink.  I have no idea how she’s able to write sideways.  Yet another reason she’s smarter than me.

I also went to schools that were built during the Depression, with those little chairs that had fixed arm rests.  All of the arm rests were on the right side.  I always had to have my left arm hovering out in space as everyone else sat comfortably writing away with their clean shirt sleeves.

Neither one of us can use a pair of scissors the way they’re supposed to be used.  It looks like I’m about to cut off one of my fingers when I try to cut something with those things.   I finally bought a left handed pair.  I will then sometimes forget that it is the left handed scissor I’m using and still use it the wrong way, and then remember and turn them over.

I’m especially bad with the garden pruner.  That’s a left handed version too.  But I’m so used to having everything backwards that I still use them the wrong way at first before turning them over.

I never learned how to drive a standard transmission car.  I guess it just never made sense to me that the control was over there on the wrong side.  What’s the left side supposed to do while I drive, that’s the leader, it wants to be in charge, not that right hand side.

In some sports there’s supposed to be an advantage to being left handed.  Especially baseball, where left handed pitchers can have long and lucrative careers.  But not for me.  My parents tried to find a left handed baseball glove for me, this was way back in the early 70′s.  It was just about impossible to find one.  That turned out to be not so bad anyway as  I was completely uncoordinated, and not just at baseball, but at all sports.  Not sure if that is related to being left handed, but I’ll blame it on that.

So we were looking forward to finding out what Mr. C would end up being. J works in medical research, so she had access to all kinds of studies about ‘handedness’, based on genetics, environmental factors and cultural factors.  She has found out some some good things about being left handed.    A larger than expected percentage of people in the arts and sciences are left handed.  Depending on the source, either six or seven of the past thirteen US presidents were left handed.  20% of the top scorers on the SAT are left handed.

I have to admit that we were looking forward to having another left handed person in the house.  When we cook all of the pot handles would be turned the correct way on the stove.  That’s the correct way, not the right way.   We would all have indecipherable handwriting.  It would be like a secret family code.  Who knows, maybe he would grow up to be a famous left handed baseball pitcher, tennis player, or golfer, maybe even the next left handed President of the United States!

She also found out that there is no increase to the odds of having a left handed child if both parents are left handed.

When the big day came and he picked up his first crayon and started to scribble, what did he use?   His right hand.

Here he is showing off.  He’s even right footed.

Look at me Dada!

Ha ha, very funny, Mr. Future Perfect Penmanship!



Lefties Unite! — 18 Comments

  1. Fascinating… One of my twins is left handed and her sib is right handed so we have both in our household. We made sure it was never an issue because I grew up in the days when kids were forced to use their right hand… quite silly! ;-)

    • That’s interesting, I didn’t think of twins being different regarding handedness. It wasn’t too long ago that it was an issue. My Dad had to switch when he started school. Its certainly a change that differences like that, along with any other sort of difference that a kid might have, are not such a big deal now.

  2. Peter, we lefties have to stick together! I am a little ambidextrous, but I found out the hard way. I bought myself left handed sewing shears and couldn’t figure out why they were so awful to use, until I realized that I cut with my right hand. Wonder how much right hand use is just because “that’s how I learned to do it”. In university I played raquetball and the two friends I played were both left handed, which worked out well on the court. None of my children are left handed, but they all got the artistic gene and I’m happy about that.

    • My wife was showing our son how to sew this weekend. She was cutting some cloth with the left handed scissors when he said ‘Are you holding those the wrong way?’. when we show him how to do things I have to remember to switch hands. My parents and grandparents would often tell me horror stories about what it was like to be left handed when they were kids. I’m glad things have changed!

  3. Great piece. My best friend at school was left handed , we had many an argument over who was taking up the most space on the desk.
    I’m wondering if my 1yr old son maybe a leftie he seems to use both left and right equally with no discrimination….. It cld go either way

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  5. Maybe he’ll be a great pitcher! And there’s a chance he might have a decent signature. I’m ambidextrous, I guess. Love left-handed scissors, can’t stand that my measuring cups are “backwards”. Surely they make left-handed measuring cups? I used to be able to write equally legibly (which isn’t very) with either hand and would like to freak out students by writing first name w left hand while simultaneously writing surname w right, a trick I could only do on blackboard. Only write w right now, but can’t for the life of me use a mouse with my right hand. Not being sure whether to lead w right or left hand/foot is always my defense for incredible clumsiness. I am fascinated by handedness which also applies to things like eye dominance.

    • There’s probably a source for left handed measuring cups. I get a lot of gardening and wood working tools online from the Lee Valley company. They always have a left handed version of most every tool, like left handed pruners from Felco, and even left handed chisels! They sometimes have cooking items too.

      You reminded me that I did the same thing with my mouse at work. I immediately switch the buttons when I get a new computer or mouse. Then when the IT staff comes by to do an update they try to use the mouse and sometimes pick it up and shake it as if there’s something wrong with it!

  6. I just had another thought….
    In the future I believe handed-ness will be a trait that evolves right out of the picture. People are typing more and writing less, and handed-ness is irrelevant to the “new” communication.

    • I didn’t think of that, makes me wonder if cursive writing will continue to be taught much longer. Beyond writing one’s signature, there’s less of a need of it these days.

  7. My two boys are both left handed! One is a musician/video professional (the arts)and the other an engineer (who scored in the top 10% of the SATs)
    Neither me nor my ex (their father) are left handed and my daughter is right handed and absolutely normal regular everyday person like me…neither artsy nor genius!
    Weird how it shakes out!

    • It is weird how it happens. I was surprised at how much research has been done on this subject.

      It was interesting seeing how he just started using his right hand. There was no hesitation when he first went for the crayons, just went with the right hand and that was that.

  8. Ah, that’s so cool! You’re going to confuse the heck out of your kid. ;-) My mom is left handed and showed me a lot of things her way so that was interesting. Don’t despair though, because maybe he’ll do some things with his left hand. I’m right handed but I use my left hand a lot every day. I also can only iron with my left hand, and I can only putt at mini golf with my left hand. I didn’t even know I did it until a right-handed person asked me why I was doing it that way.

    As for the legible hand-writing, I knew a leftie who had absolutely beautiful handwriting. He wrote pretty slowly but it was really worth it. He also knew Japanese so I think he was used to spending time writing well.

    As for driving with a stick, maybe you should move to the UK…

    • When I was a kid my Dad would show me how to use power tools. Problem was that they were all set up for use by right handed people. For example table saws have the blade positioned so that you can guide the wood through with the right hand. So of course that just confused the heck out of my little brain at the time. I guess that’s why I’m not a carpenter now.

      When I watch a movie from the UK, I do find myself watching closely to see how they drive!